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Creating The Truth Is Much Easier Than Telling The Truth

by John Neugent

Tech articles | Commentary articles |

John Neugent probably knows more about bicycle wheels than anyone else alive. Maybe more about bikes as well. He's spent his life in the bike business, at every level. He now owns Neugent Cycling, a firm devoted to delivering world-class equipment at the lowest possible price. If you are in the market for a set of wheels, please, check out John's site. He really knows his stuff. —Chairman Bill

John Neugent

Author John Neugent

Bill and Carol McGann's book The Story of the Giro d'Italia, A Year-by-Year History of the Tour of Italy, Vol 1: 1909 - 1970 is available in print, Kindle eBook & audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

John Neugent writes:

I bought my first 10 speed in ’68 during the bike boom of that period. It was a Hercules, named because you had to be one to ride it. The front chainwheel was a 50-52 and the rear was a 14 -18 5-speed. The reason for these tight gears was the derailleurs at the time used on inexpensive bikes barely worked—Hercules used Huret. My partner and I always said “Hip, hip hooray!” every time we serviced one. I later got to know and work with the Huret brothers (sons of the father who started the business).

The famous Huret Allvit rear derailleur. For all its limitiations, it was the first low-priced parallelogram rear derailleur.

There was a whole group of French manufacturers who sold their companies to Sachs and I would go to France to visit the factories. It was during that period I made the worst mistake of my life, barely edging out my purchase of that Hercules. Phillipe Maillard offered to take me to the Tour De France to ride in a support vehicle. The road bike market at that time was tiny and MTBs were dominant so I declined his offer. It still hurts to this day.

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Story of the Tour de France, volume 1 Schwab Cycles South Salem Cycleworks frames

It was about 6-8 years after I bought that first Hercules that US companies started to aggressively market the high-end bike market. The way most marketed their products was to say, in one form or another, their product made you faster. Surprisingly some of them actually did, but if they did, it wasn’t by much. Shimano dived heavily into aero products in the late ‘70s and it was a disaster. They were about 20 years ahead of the curve. I know the feeling because I was one of the first to market disc brakes and electric bikes. Both about 20 years before they became popular, but I digress.


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Neugent Cycling Wheels Peaks Coaching: work with a coach!

I kept track of most of the claims bike and component makers have made since 1973. A gram here, an aero advantage there. Take the grease out of the bearings for extra speed (the old hubs actually had oil holes and were about 50 years ahead of their time). Of course there were also nutrition, and coaching advances. The only coaching book I could find in the early ‘70s was a Cinelli book that advised you to “ride until you are tired but not wacked.” In any case, I added up all of the advances in the last 49 years and calculated that I should be averaging at least 50 mph.

The famous Cinelli manual

Golf is probably the worst in this regard, the average drive on the pro tour in 1970 was about 250 yards and now they average over 300, but if you add up all of their claims, you should be getting a carry distance of a mile.

There is a bright side to all of this. Between all of the claims made in cycling and golf that I have fallen victim to, most carried money back guarantees. I have kept the receipts and claims and will use them to finance my retirement.


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Shade Vise sunglass holder Advertise with us!

John Neugent was one of the first to establish the making of quality hand-built wheels in Taiwan around the turn of the century. He now owns Neugent Cycling, a firm devoted to delivering world-class equipment at the lowest possible price.